Kennel cough

What should you do if a dog comes into your salon and you think it may have Kennel cough?

Kennel Cough or Infectious Tracheobronchitis as it is properly known, is a highly contagious disease in dogs.

What is kennel cough and how do dogs pick it up?

The clue is in the name but scientifically the cause of the disease is a complex interaction of common respiratory viruses and a bug called Bordetella Bronchiseptica. When the dog coughs the bug is expelled in droplets, which die unless inhaled by another dog. So a dog can only pick up the infection when it shares common air space with an infected dog. This is one of the reasons that the illness has the term “kennel cough”. Grooming salons salons are ideal environments for the disease to spread rapidly as large numbers of dogs can be kept in close contact.
Once the dog has been exposed to the infection, it will generally take 5-7 days before the signs of the disease are seen. Kennel cough usually causes a dry, hacking cough, runny nose and sometimes sneezing. The gagging cough and retching associated with this disease are upsetting for the dog and it can become quite depressed. Depending on its severity, the signs of kennel cough can last from a few days to several weeks. However, even after the coughing has stopped, the dog can remain infectious for up to three months.

So what should you do if a client’s dog has a cough when it comes into your salon?

  • If it is the only dog you are doing and it won’t come into contact with others and the dog seems well in itself apart from the cough I would say do it and let the client know about the cough when they come to collect it and suggest that they take it to the vet to have it looked at.If you have a busy salon where dogs mix together I would personally contact the owner and get them to immediately return for the dog so that they can get the dog to the vet to confirm kennel cough. Ask the customer to phone you as soon as possible with the results, and then ring any clients whose dog(s) has come into contact with the dog to warn them there is a possibility that their dog may have come into contact with kennel cough and therefore to keep an eye on them for the next 5-7 days. I would also ask them to let you know if any of them do develop a cough.

Some dogs will require a course of antibiotics and a possible anti-inflammatory injection to reduce the swollen throat and nasal tissue but for some it will be as mild as having a common cold.